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10 hot cloud startups to watch

Jeff Vance | March 6, 2013
After evaluating more than 150 new cloud ventures, here are the top 10 cloud startups. These companies are shaping--or have the potential to shape--how the cloud computing market will evolve.

Market potential and competitive landscape: According to IDC, the WAN optimization market should have topped $1.3 billion by the end of 2012. There are some major incumbents in this market, though. Riverbed owns about 50 percent of the market, while Cisco, F5, Blue Coat and Silver Peak are all formidable foes.

That said, the IT market as a whole is slowly moving away from box-heavy infrastructures -- the delivery model of the above providers -- and to services. Moreover, the middle market is grossly underserved by existing solutions, and even many large enterprises are reluctant to deploy hardware at branch offices, which will greatly benefit from a service like this.

3. Blue Jeans Network

What they do: Develop cloud-based videoconferencing tools that bridge various available services.

Headquarters: Mountain View, Calif.

CEO: Krish Ramakrishnan, who formerly served as CEO for Topspin, which was acquired by Cisco in 2005. At Cisco, he served as GM of the Server Virtualization business unit.

Founded: November 2009

Funding: The company has raised $48.5 million from New Enterprise Associates, Accel Partners and Norwest Venture Partners.

Why they're on this list: Today, various videoconferencing systems do not interoperate. Cisco videoconferencing units don't talk to Polycom which don't talk to Google which don't talk to Skype and so on. Imagine if this were the case with telephony. If you were a Sprint customer, you could only talk to other Sprint customers. If you wanted to talk to someone on AT&T or Verizon, you'd need to download special software.

Blue Jeans leverages the cloud to turn videoconferencing calls into a "meet me" service, where each party dials into the videoconference from whichever system they prefer to use. The end point hardware becomes irrelevant -- kind of like how the handset is irrelevant when placing a call.

On its roadmap, Blue Jeans intends to eventually take users from the audio-only calling market and shift them to video calls. Customers include Facebook, Match.com, Foursquare and the Sierra Club.

Market potential and competitive landscape: According to Wainhouse Research, the videoconferencing infrastructure market represents a $700 million/year market. However, this is a crowded space. In addition to incumbents like Polycom and Cisco, cloud-based newcomers, such as Join.me and FuzeBox, will challenge Blue Jeans. That said, Blue Jeans is the only tool I'm aware of that stitches an array of conferencing services together.

4. BrightTag

What they do: Develop cloud-based data integration tools.

Headquarters: Chicago, Ill.

CEO: Mike Sands. Prior to joining BrightTag, Sands was part of the original Orbitz management team and held the positions of CMO and COO.

Founded: 2009

Funding: They've raised $23 million to date from Baird Venture Partners, EPIC Ventures, I2A Fund, New World Ventures and TomorrowVentures.

 

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